Bombers nip Mustangs in Class C Regional

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 20 November 2021 at 5:31 pm

Photos by Cheryl Wertman – Medina running back Noah Skinner, who scored three touchdowns, picks up yardage behind blocks by Josh Wilson (56) and Chris Johnson during the Mustangs Class C Far West Regional loss to East Rochester/Gananda this afternoon at Williamsville South.

Unable to overcome a rash of costly mistakes, Medina dropped a narrow 26-24 decision to East Rochester/Gananda in the Class C Far West Regional championship game this afternoon at Williamsville South High School.

A lost fumble at the Medina 30 yard line on the very first snap of the game set what proved to be an ominous tone for the Mustangs.

The turnover ended up putting Medina into a quick 6-0 hole as the Bombers, aided by a pass interference penalty, scored 10 plays later on a 6 yard touchdown run by Adrian Letta.

Medina’s Jarin Rhim goes up to break up a pass intended for the Bombers Miles Caviness.

In fact two of the Bombers other three touchdowns in the contest also came as the result of Medina special teams miscues, one on a punt return and the other on a kickoff return.

“We just had too many breakdowns, just too many mistakes,” said Medina Coach Eric Valley.

Medina did battle back to knot the score at 6-6 on a 5 yard touchdown run by Noah Skinner three minutes into the second quarter. A big 61 yard pass completion from quarterback Xander Payne to Jarin Rhim down to the Bombers 5 set up the tally.

However, as was the case all afternoon, the Mustangs were unable to tack on the the extra points as a penalty proved costly.

The Bombers used up most all the rest of the second quarter with a lengthy 18 play, nine minute long drive which reached the Medina 5 yard line before it was halted by the Mustangs defensive unit via a pass interception by Greg Thompson in the endzone as the half ended deadlocked at 6-6.

The scoring really picked up in the third quarter as the teams traded a pair of scores leaving the contest re-knotted at 18-18 heading into the decisive final period.

Medina’s Greg Thompson, who had two interceptions and a touchdown catch, breaks away for a good gain.

Medina grabbed a 12-6 lead with 4:43 to go in the quartrer on a 1 yard touchdown run by Skinner. Runs of 11 yards by Thompson, 11 and 9 by Skinner and 7 by Payne highlighted the drive which was set up by another pass interception by Thompson at midfield.

However, the lead lasted only two minutes as the Bombers answered right back with a 1 yard TD run by Letta following a big 39 yard run by Gilbert Chaunsey.

The Mustangs again regained the lead at 18-12 on a 5 yard touchdown run by Skinner with just 21 seconds to go in the quarter. A big 39 yard Payne to Thompson pass completion down to the Bombers 5 set up the opportunity.

However, once again the Bombers answered right back this time just eight seconds later as Manuel Sepulveda returned the ensuing kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown to retie the contest at 18-18.

The Bombers then regained the lead for good two minutes into the final quarter on a 1 yard touchdown run by quarterback Carter Lathrop. Jeremy Blanchard returned a very short Medina punt back to the Mustangs 1 yard line to set up the score.

The Bombers then got the only two-point conversion of the day on a run by Caleb Carpenter for the deciding two points and a 26-18 lead.

The Mustangs again came battling back on a 10 yard Payne to Thompson touchdown pass with 7:45 to go to slice the deficit to 26-24. However, the Mustangs were unable to retie the contest as the two-point conversion attempt again failed.

Payne had big pass completions of 35 yards to Thompson and 30 yards to Cayden Lilleby and Skinner had a 11 yard run to highlight the drive.

The Medina defense then stopped the Bombers next series forcing a punt as Ollie Wilson and Roosevelt Mitchell came up with a key tackle for a loss on third down.

The Mustangs took over at their own 14 with 2:44 remaining but were able to make only one first down.

“We just didn’t get enough opportunities and that is much to their credit,” said Valley of the Bombers ability to control the ball.

The Bombers took over on downs at the Medina 22 with 1:44 to go and were able to run out the clock and advance to next Saturday’s state semifinal with a 12-0 record. The Bombers will face Chenango Forks a 41-21 victor over Skaneateles in the Central Regional.

Medina, which was making it first ever appearance in the state playoffs finishes with an 11-1 record.

Medina quarterback Xander Payne goes through the line for good yardage.